by Gavin Whyte
Gavin Whyte sees death and dying as the continuation of life – not the end of it. Gavin truly believes that when we fully accept death into our lives we will raise our vibration, which would naturally and organically lead us to living more compassionate, understanding and loving lives.
I was five years old when I had my first encounter with death. It was the first time I had seen my dad cry. He tried his best to sit me down and be still as he told me the heartbreaking news that my great grandma had died. I can remember hearing the news and then suddenly laughing; my dad’s face dropping even more so than before. And still to this day I cringe at the recollection of that moment; the confusion and frustration he must’ve felt. Did he think he’d brought some devilish child into the world? I’m not proud of the way I reacted, and I assure you I haven’t laughed at a death since (OK, maybe I have at ‘stupid deaths’ on BBC’s Horrible Histories), but I come back to that memory again and again and wonder why I reacted so insensitively.
Did I know something at the tender age of five that has gradually slipped away with time? Did I know something intuitively that I couldn’t express? Did my instinctual reaction to laugh come from innate knowledge that has slowly been suppressed through conditioning and social interaction?
I’ve had a fascination with death for as long as I can remember. At around eight years old we took a class trip to the library. I watched as everyone else got picture books and tales of adventures and magic (way before Mr Potter came along). I went straight to the non-fiction section and got a book on ghost sightings in the UK. I sat in the corner turning page after page, enthralled at the silky entities captured on film. I started to ask basic questions that weren’t so easy to answer, such as: What’s a ghost? What’s a poltergeist? What’s an angel? What happens when we die? Is there a heaven and a hell?
As the years have gone by my interest in the somewhat taboo subject hasn’t faded, in fact, you could say it’s more present than ever. It’s only natural that as you get older the more funerals you’ll go to. At the moment I’m twenty-eight and I’ve had three good friends make the transition we know as death before they were thirty – two of which died before they were twenty-three. I’ve stepped back and watched as families and friends grieve over their loved ones, wishing them back to life, howling for them to return. But they never do.
You would think this would cloud my belief in an afterlife, but it doesn’t.
Through reading countless books on the subject of life after death and spirituality, on personal growth and mysticism, and through years of self-observation, awareness and mindfulness meditation practice, I can say with confidence and with ease – we don’t die.
I do volunteer work at my local Hospice. On a number of occasions I have sat down with patients who were dying and had a word or two with them. It pains me to think that they’re afraid of death. Death is a word pointing to a process that isn’t separate from life. So I tell them, ‘Death doesn’t even come close to touching you. There is only life and it doesn’t have a full stop’. I can see it in their faces the amount of comfort this brings. Then they ask, ‘How do you know?’ And the answer to that is, ‘All you have to do is see yourself beyond that which you think is you’.
Can you see that you are the movement behind that which moves?
I have told a number of people that if you want proof that you don’t die, move your little finger and watch what happens. The answer is there. When you fully see and understand this you will feel like you’re walking around with a suit on – a fleshy suit, at that. And look how beautiful your suit is! What a great gift. How wonderful it is to live your life with the knowledge that the tailor who created your suit, the suit that fits you so well, can take it back at any time, without any warning.
The tailor is very generous, but you don’t get to keep your suit.
If we accepted death on a day to day basis our lives would become richer, more vibrant, simply because we would be more present. Attainment of Self-knowledge (knowledge of the Self that doesn’t die) would raise our vibration to a more compassionate level. We would act out of kindness more often, because we would be more aware of the fact that this moment could be the last time we ever get to wear our suit.
Knowing that all could be taken away at any moment we would appreciate the simple things in life: the breeze against our skin, the rain drops on our faces, the sound of birds and rustling leaves. We might even have more time for strangers! (Strangers tell the greatest stories, you know.) A good friend of mine told me that his relative, who’s in her 90’s, stopped in her wheelchair whilst outside, held a flower gently in her hand and said, ‘Aren’t you lovely’. What an amazing mindset to have.
So I ask you to look at a blade of grass, or a tree, or your child or sibling, or even a complete stranger, and say to yourself, ‘This could be the very last time I get to see you wearing your amazing suit’. Notice the feelings that arise within you. By doing this exercise you are honouring the universal law that governs all forms – the law of impermanence. But it just so happens that you are the formless behind the form – so all is well.
Please take care of your suit; you don’t know when you might need to return it.